Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Peace Bridge Wake-Up Call

After the Ontario and Michigan bridge audits, is it any surprise that there is a mess in New York State too with their bridges! And some people still are in favour of a publicly owned DRIC border crossing in Windsor/Detroit!

Where is Congressman Dingell when we really need him? The reports on the condition of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel have still not been released for some reason. Fortunately, we already know that the Ambassador Bridge is OK since the private operator understands that he needs to look after his asset to make money. Doesn't Dingell care about Tunnel users? After all, he said:
  • “The safety of the driving public should be the top priority for the Federal Highway Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation regardless of whether or not a bridge or its bridge operators are public or private.”

Those reports are even more crucial now considering what the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said about the Peace Bridge:

  • “DiNapoli, during a morning conference call with reporters, said special attention should be given to the Peace Bridge linking Buffalo with Fort Erie, Ontario.

    DiNapoli said the Peace Bridge's safety rating is lower than the Lake Champlain Bridge, which connected Crown Point, N.Y., with Chimney Point, Vt., before being torn down in December because of its condition.

    "We need to recognize that we have not put the kind of priority on our bridge infrastructure as we should have," he said. "Just imagine if we had to do a closure of the Peace Bridge, what that would do to Western New York?"

I am stunned! The Peace Bridge was the operation that Brian Masse wanted us to take a look at as a possible role model for operating our new border crossing. I remember him bringing Ron Rienas, its GM, down here to have him speak.

Take a look at this:

Oh my goodness gracious. Ron Rienas has his hands full now looking after his existing bridge to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

I am sure that there are some cynical people amongst my readers who noticed the last paragraph and who may be thinking that this report is nothing but a propaganda piece to allow Mr. Rienas to hurry up on his stalled Peace Bridge project by scaring the public.

I do not think so. Government would never act in such a fashion. They would never think of misleading the public to defeat a private operator

Moreover, Mr. Rienas and his Board are professionals who must have the best interest of their region at heart. I am certain that they will have to concede now that their Peace Bridge Expansion Project is dead since the Public Authority would be incapable of running two bridges and maintaining them since they have so many problems just looking after one bridge according to the State Comptroller.

Accordingly. I am sure that Mr. Rienas and his Board will throw their support behind Matty Moroun to allow him to build his Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge in Buffalo/Fort Erie.

Transport Canada I hope has received a wake-up call for Windsor/Detroit and will now hopefully allow the Bridge Company Enhancement Project Bridge to be constructed with full speed.

I am sure that the Peace Bridge is safe. Thankfully, the Peace Bridge people said this in reply:
  • “the Peace Bridge Authority that oversees the span has said it is in generally good condition and that its rating reflects its 80-year-old design rather than its level of safety.”

However, if I have to choose who is to teach our region about Bridge operations, I would prefer to learn from the group that FHWA said was the #1 border crossing operator rather than the Peace Bridge folks:

  • "Crossing times at Detroit's Ambassador Bridge port-of-entry, as noted above, were markedly different from others in the sample. Despite the bridge's dramatically higher volume of traffic, generally shorter crossing times were achieved. While inbound crossing times exceeded outbound, as at the other six locations, the margin of difference was significantly narrower and more consistent across the sample period. Whether the reason for this difference in performance is a function of policy, bridge ownership, tactics, infrastructure, capacity, or facility design remains to be determined.

    The Peace Bridge at Buffalo was found to have the greatest similarity between inbound and outbound average crossing times, registering relatively low among the 7 ports-of-entry in this regard. However, it also demonstrates the highest inbound buffer index (265.7 percent). Thus, while its average crossing times are similar in both directions, the potential exists for motor carriers to be significantly delayed when traveling from Canada into the United States at this location."

Are you listening Brian?